BIG changes are predicted in the EU pigmeat market due to large numbers of farmers abandoning the sector, due to onerous animal welfare requirements and years of low if non-existent profits.
Inefficient farms have already closed due to the fall in demand for pigmeat during the global economic crisis. Demand has not fully recovered, EU pigmeat exporters face growing competition from Brazil and Thailand, and changes in Russian import duties could slash EU live pig exports.
New limits on animal accommodation and ammonia emissions, and extra costs for castrating pigs, are the latest factors expected to depress the EU pig herd to its lowest point in at least a decade.
A particularly high rate of pig farms closures is expected in France, but modernisation drives have been implemented in other leading pig producing countries, such as Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
EU pig numbers of 150.7m are predicted by the end of next year, down by nearly 11m in five years.
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